Varia presents a deeptech solution to fight against misinformation and fake news- and was born from “the idea to make different perspectives on news as easily accessible as possible”. They started by developing an NPL framework that is now evolving into their next product: Varia Research, soon to be launched.
Georg Horn, the founder and CEO of the company, told us how he feels very lucky to have a core team at Varia, that understands and complies with the challenges of them being an early stage startup. And as for the MME programme, he considers it to be a great opportunity to connect with more media companies and journalists.
What’s the story behind Varia? How was the idea for this business born?
Varia was born out of the idea to make different perspectives on news as easily accessible as possible. We deem that an absolute necessity, if you want to keep people decently informed, in a time of deepening echo chambers, selective facts and an ever lower trust in media. We have developed an NLP (natural language processing) framework that enables users to be able to discover different perspectives around a given topic at the push of a button.
Which is the media challenge that your solution tackles and how do you set apart from the other companies with similar solutions?
We first offered our product as API, with the idea to integrate this into existing tools in the journalistic research process. However, we realized that there are no really dominant tools in that process – and that an API alone would not solve many of the organizational issues that are embedded in the process. So we have pivoted and have decided to build a holistic journalistic research application: Varia Research. Varia Research helps journalists to monitor their critical sources, organize their research – and, of course, get different perspectives on their topics and research Dossiers.
I’m sure Varia is more than a deeptech company focused on technical aspects. Tell us a bit about the people behind it and what are the most important human aspects you search for in a teammate.
I guess we are very lucky to have a core team that not only represents the required skill set to make our strategy a reality – but that also understands the constraints and critical priorities that an early stage startup must have. Apart from understanding and fully supporting the company vision, it’s this startup mentality that has to be present in teammates. People have to be ready that in those early stages, structures and processes will be mostly implicit, salaries will be low, working hours will be long. Often it’s exactly such environments that form the greatest bonds and most dedicated efforts.
And about MME… Why did you apply?
We saw in MME an opportunity to connect with media companies and journalists that we did not already have on our top-priority list. To expand our network beyond DACH, into the broader European news ecosystem. Certainly, we also hope to benefit from the exposure and publicity we get alongside.
What were the greatest learnings that you took from this programme?
It’s always great to see the diversity of startups that one finds in such programs. People are working on a hundred different things, on problems you didn’t even know of – even though they are also in the media space. This is impressive to see and from all these approaches and teams, you can learn something.
After MME, what’s next for Varia?
We are planning to launch Varia Research this year. So right now we are on the move from our closed testing to an open Beta version. It’s an exciting and critical time for us!
To know more about this company, please go to https://www.varia.media/.